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Ordering Food, Reordering Relationships: Deaf and Hearing Social Interaction in Kathmandu

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Title: Ordering Food, Reordering Relationships: Deaf and Hearing Social Interaction in Kathmandu
Authors: Hoffman-Dilloway, Erika
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for South Asian Studies
Citation: Hoffman-Dilloway, Erika, "Ordering Food, Reordering Relationships: Deaf and Hearing Social Interaction in Kathmandu." Paper presented at the Center for South Asian Studies 30th Annual Symposium, "Sensing South Asia," Honolulu, April 17-19, 2013.
Abstract: This paper focuses on “complications in the semiotic modalities, cultural variability, and interactive significance” (Haviland 2004:201) of gesturally mediated interactions between hearing customers and deaf waiters in a chain of popular fast food restaurants in Kathmandu. I look at how these engagements are taken to reveal and transform the material qualities of both gesturing subjects; it is commonly believed in Nepal that d/Deaf bodies carry ritual pollution, which can be transmitted across persons through commensality and other forms of social interaction. While this belief about the effects of social intercourse with Deaf bodies is not universally accepted, it underlies the significance of contact gesture even in contexts (such as the restaurant chain) in which this perspective is explicitly rejected. Drawing on ethnographic data from the restaurants, I will argue that when gestures (and other linguistic forms) circulate, their significance is not only affected by the bodies executing them but also affects the nature of social bodies, in ways that hinge on culturally specific ideologies concerning semiotic modalities, the embodied media through which those modalities are manifested, and the sensoriums through which they are perceived.
Rights: Hoffman-Dilloway, Erika
Appears in Collections:2013 South Asia Spring Symposium Presentations

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